Grilled Veggies, Cheese and Espresso Vinaigrette

Photo: Randy Graham, Valley Vegetarian

Grilled onions, tomatillos and Queso Fresco cheese.

I saw a recipe similar to this in a magazine this morning and it looked interesting. But I had to ask myself, espresso vinaigrette? Really?

So I made this hearty salad for dinner tonight and was pleasantly surprised. Whatever genius first thought of adding coffee to a simple vinaigrette is, well, a genius. Oh, and don’t forget the grilled cheese! Another brilliant idea.

Here’s my take on the recipe I saw. I use salad rocket greens (arugula) and seasonal veggies. I think you’ll find that the char on the grilled veggies pairs excellently with the espresso. You can make it as I did or experiment with veggies of your choice, fresh from your garden. Add slices of fresh French bread to the table and you have a complete meal (serves four) for either lunch or dinner.

Try it at least once to see if the wonderful flavor of the espresso vinaigrette surprises you as much as it did me.

Grill Ingredients:
8 Mexican grilling onions (remove greens and retain white bulbs)
4 fresh tomatillos (remove husk, rinse and cut into quarters)
4 garlic cloves (minced)
4 ounces queso fresco (whole for grilling, not crumbled)
⅔ cup olive oil (divided)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette Ingredients:
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons instant espresso
Additional salad ingredients:
½ English cucumber (seeds removed- thinly sliced)
½ cup cilantro leaves (stems removed)
¼ cup parsley leaves (stems removed)
6 ounces arugula

Prep Directions:
Combine onions, tomatillos, garlic, cheese, and ⅓ cup olive oil in a large resealable plastic bag and season with salt and pepper to taste. Seal bag and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate for at least an hour.

Make the vinaigrette by whisking together vinegar, honey, and espresso in a medium bowl until honey dissolves. Add remaining ⅓ cup oil and whisk to incorporate. Cover and set aside.

Grilled Veggies with Espresso Vinaigrette #2

Note the cheese crescents on the sides of the grill.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat; lightly oil grates. Remove onions, tomatillos and cheese from the marinade and place them on the grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until tender and charred in spots (about 5 -7 minutes). Remove from grill and allow to cool.

Cut cucumber in half (lengthwise) and remove seeds. Slice thin. Cut grilled vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Coarsely chop cheese. Set aside.

Assembly directions:

To serve, arrange arugula on four chilled salad plates and drizzle with half of the vinaigrette. Top arugula with cucumber, cilantro, parsley, grilled vegetables and cheese. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. If you don’t like arugula I’ve made this with butter lettuce and also with chopped Romain. Excellent however you do it.

About Valley Vegetarian

The fresh chef providing consistently good vegetarian comfort food recipes.
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